I … am attempting a thing.
As many of you may know, November is known as National Novel Writing Month, a self-inflicted game whose only real rule seems to be reaching a wordcount of 50,000 before December.
The benefits of this exercise are well documented — it forces you to set aside your internal editor and aspirations of Perfection in the interests of just getting the bloody words out already. It also fosters a feeling of community as the lonely art of writing becomes an activity discussed and celebrated in group format.
The downsides area also publicly lamented — quantity over quality rarely yields publishable results and the grueling pace it demands doesn’t forgive even single-day failures or missteps. Miss a day and you’ve got a LOT of work to do in order to catch back up … and that work happens to fall on a dreaded Family Holiday Month.
My Sordid NaNoWriMo History
I have “won” NaNoWriMo twice.
Neither time yielded a marketable story. Neither time yielded a revisable story. In truth, neither time yielded a story I ever wanted to see ever again, may it burn in hell for a billion years.
That being said, I don’t regret either of them, and some of the lessons I learned on those frantic months are ones I could probably do with a refresher for.
I did get a coupon that allowed me to purchase Scrivener for a drastically reduced price, which is still my all-time favorite software (the mac version. The Windows version is gaaaarbage).
I also got a lifetime pass to the Complain About NaNoWriMo club, which is nothing to sneeze at. *wink*
My Primary Goal:
- Build a Habit of Making Time For Writing
Additional Reminders I Need:
- Stop Waiting For Perfect
- Stop Making Excuses About Not Having Time
- Remember What the Flow of Writing Feels Like
- Any Draft (Even an Admittedly Terrible One) is Better Than Nothing
- Push Through the Saggy Middle Doldrums
“Lessons” I can Live Without:
- Not Writing A Lot Every Day is Doom
- Meet This Goal Or Fail
- Florid Writing Is Better Than Clean, Concise Writing
- Any Plot Point Will Do As Long As You Don’t Stop
- Don’t Stop Dear God Don’t Stop Ever
I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year.
At least, not according to the rules. (breakin’ the lawr, breakin’ the lawr)
I want to build the writing habit, and I want to do it in a way that encourages me to continue without using the Sharp, Pointy Stick of Failure to “motivate” me.
So instead of the almighty Word Count as my goal, I am instead going to set myself a Number Of Days goal.
How many days? In a utopia, I’d write every day. While we don’t (yet) live in a distopia … we are still miles away from ideal. (Which is not to disparage the advice to write every day. It’s got its place and purpose, but it is not my goal for this challenge).
So instead, I am going to focus on what I know I want to get out of this, which is a habit.
So! I’m going to steadily increase my involvement, with an eye toward reasonable goals … even considering Teslacon at the beginning of the month, Thanksgiving at the rear, and an absurd number of social events in the middle.
November has days on five separate weeks, with the first and final weeks having fewer days.
- The first week of November, my goal is to write 2 times.
- The second and third week of November, my goal is to write 3 times.
- The fourth week of November, my goal is to write 4 times.
- The fifth week of November, my goal is to write 3 times.
If I miss a day, I can make it up in a following week.
My Monthly goal is 12 writing sessions.
What Does It Mean to “Write”?
I have to be specific, because Procrastinating-Against-Writing Me is really good at finding loopholes. Just as my super-clean house every time I try to work on a plot wrinkle.
Rules, rules, rules:
- Writing must be on Creative Works. It can be a short story or a novel-length work or anything in between, but it cannot be emails or blog posts.
- Writing must be at least 45 minutes in length. I have a sand timer to assist me in this endeavor.For those who do not follow the Writing Excuses podcast, the sand timer was a tool they recommended because it runs out of time SILENTLY, so if you’re in the middle of a good flow, you often just keep going without realizing your self-imposed time has run out.
- Writing CAN include minor research.But if details can be bracketed out with [[Find out How Vodka Is Distilled And Add Details Here]] they should be.
- Writing CAN include “Crap, How Do I Fix This Plot Point” type planning…. but not for two sessions in a row. If I am more than one-session worth of stuck, I need to skip over it, work around it, or phone a friend to help me iron it out before the next session.
- Writing does not include Editing for the purposes of this NaNoWriMo challenge.
So Stick That In Your Pipe and Smoke It, November
I’m hoping that by openly blogging about this, it’s more likely to stick. “Secret” goals are a lot easier to shrug off when things are a lot less shiny around week two and three of a new habit.
I think I’m finally ready to stop dipping my toe into the wading pool of flash fiction twiddles (though I do hope some of you have been enjoying those) and get back into a more serious mindset.
If anyone wants to join me in any sort of November Writing Festivities, I’d love to hear what you’re doing and have a buddy (or three) who are also rising up to meet goals that have been consistently pushed aside.